How to Upgrade Your Ecommerce Website
IntroIf you are a website owner sooner or later you will face the fact that your website is required some renovation. Especially if you’re running ecommerce website and your competitors pushing you out of business because they already use newest web technologies, but you’re stuck with 5-10 years old website. Internet is a very fast paced environment, many things are changing rapidly: technology, fashion, user behavior, market tendencies and the most important - search engine ranking logic. Let’s see what we can do to really improve design, performance, ROI and search engine positions of any e-commerce website.
SE AccessibilityIf search engines have difficulties accessing information on your website then your website simply doesn’t exist for search engins. Good SE Accessibility can significantly improve SE positions of your website that can eventually save a lot of your money. Here are some points that will help you to achieve a perfect SE accessibility:
- Create a good robot.txt file that shows which parts of your websites are welcome for indexing by search engine robots.
- If your website doesn’t have SE-friendly URLs you can compensate it by creating Google Sitemap and RSS feed of your product pages to make sure that search engines can easily index all of your products.
- Make sure your website has a valid HTML or XHTML front-end code by using free W3C online Validator or built-in validators of WYSIWYG HTML editors (e.g. Adobe DreamWeaver). SE robots are not browsers; they can’t bypass your front-end code if it’s a total mess. If your website looks good in browser it doesn’t mean that SE robots can index it with no problems. Improper document format declaration and messy HTML code can be an insuperable obstacle to any SE robot.
- Optimize your front-end code by making it as light as possible by moving all of visual design elements to the external CSS file. Good CSS design can dramatically reduce amount of front-end HTML code and can get your website the best text/code ratio. This is an essential point for good SE ranking.
- If your website has “table in table in table and so on” nightmare HTML soup, then you should hire a really professional web designer to fix it for good.
Usability and User Experience
- Secondly make all text information easy to read. People no longer use small screen resolutions like 640x480px and 800x600px, therefore sizes of fonts on your website must be easily readable on monitors with 1280x800px resolution. Contrast between background colors and colors of your fonts must be in comfortably visible range.
- Make shopping experience on your website easy to understand. User’s efforts between adding an item to shopping cart and actual payment for it must be as low as possible.
- If your website requires a mandatory registration before user can actually buy something, then probably you’re losing up to 80% of potential sales. Just think for yourself which website would you prefer when you want to buy some product online: with registration or without it? If your e-commerce business really needs user registration then make it very simple by getting rid of all redundant form fields as salutation, gender, birth date etc.
- If you have a large quantity of products, good categorization and search facility are essential. Your visitors should be able to find what they are looking for in a matter of seconds.
Ecommerce Content Management System (ECMS)In some cases would much easier and cheaper to build the whole website from scratch than fixing the old one. Unlike 5-10 years ago now we have a large variety of Ecommerce Content Management Systems (ECMS). They are ready to go e-commerce websites in one package including everything that any online retailer ever can dream about:
- shopping cart
- database-driven Content Management System
- built-in WYSIWYG editors
- order manager
- automatic secure download for digital products
- feed generators
- and many other useful features.
Choosing the Right ECMSLet’s assume that you are running or going to run a small e-commerce business and from this criterion we draw some points to help you to choose the right Ecommerce Content Management System. First of all it’s not recommended to use free open source software by the following reasons:
- “Free” means “you got what you paid for” and eventually it may cost you even more than most expensive ECMS.
- No professional technical support. Support is usually provided by software users themselves on voluntarily basis with no any responsibility to the end user. If something serious happened - you’re on your own.
- In many cases free open source software is very buggy because many developers work their spare time on it not as a team, but with total disconnection from each other. Their bug fixes create new bugs with every new version and this is an endless process as a war on drugs.
- Free open source means that every hacker can freely download it and explore its code thoroughly to find out all possible vulnerabilities and security holes for a subsequent attack on any website using this kind of software.
Another thing to consider before you buy any ECMS is a list of supported payment processors and a list all its features that have to match essential needs of your ecommerce business. For example if you going to sell intangible digital products (e.g.: e-books, MP3s, ring-tones, images etc.) you have to check it first, because not so many payment processors and shopping carts support real-time transactions and automatic immediate download of digital goods.
And the last thing to check is SE accessibility of ECMS mentioned in above paragraph of this article with the corresponding title. Try to validate the front-end code of its demo website before you buy any ECMS software package. If it can’t pass W3C Validator, has bulky and messy front-end code - don’t buy it.
In many cases small business retailers may be satisfied with E-commerce Site Kit: it has a very good usability, SE accessibility, nice CSS templates and pretty strong set of features to sell any kind of tangible and intangible goods together on one website.